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Towards spatially-controlled, bioorthogonal, CuAAC-mediated assembly of targeted oncoprotein degraders

Project description

Tiny semi-permeable bags of nanoparticles will help deliver protein degrading cancer therapy

Proteins are responsible for most of the functions of cells and organisms. They play roles in structure, function and regulation, and include molecules such as antibodies, enzymes, hormones and receptors. When they go rogue, the results can be devastating. All mammalian cells express three closely related Ras proteins: H-Ras, K-Ras and N-Ras. The proteins can mutate to become cancer-causing, and their mutations are associated with about 30 % of all human cancers. KRAS is the most common mutation. Compounds capable of targeted protein degradation promise a new route to cancer therapy, yet they have faced numerous practical obstacles. The EU-funded BOOMCHEMBAGS project is assembling compounds targeting KRAS with the help of copper nanoparticles placed in the tumour in semi-permeable sachets, letting precursors in without letting the nanoparticles out. The project's results will have an important impact on a wide variety of protein-related conditions and diseases.


I propose an ambitious multidisciplinary strategy to address the challenge of targeting KRAS-mutated cancers through the combination of a novel bioorthogonal strategy to assemble bioactive agents and ‘targeted protein degradation’ (TPD). TPD is an innovative strategy to degrade targeted proteins by hijacking the natural Ubiquitin Proteasome System (UPS) employing heterobifunctional molecules called Proteolysis Targeting Chimeras or PROTACs. These compounds have demonstrated the ability to drive the destruction of well-known harmful proteins. However, their therapeutic implementation has been severely limited by the large size and lipophilicity of these molecules, and by concerns of systemic toxicities. Here, we propose these issues could be circumvented by that the use of PROTACs against KRAS that are assembled from two drug-like fragments via bioorthogonal copper-catalyzed azide alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC) mediated by Cu nanoparticles (Cu NPs) located in the tumour anatomical area. Furthermore, to avoid the Cu NPs loss of catalytic performance caused by their interaction with the biological milieu, we propose to protect them in sachets made out of a dialysis membrane to avoid biofouling and at the same time, facilitate the entry of precursors of bioactive PROTACs. This highly innovative project has the potential to create far-reaching tools for cancer therapy, and in doing so, promoting European Scientific Excellence. By completing this multidisciplinary work, the applicant will be in an excellence position for create cross-disciplinary collaborations with research groups and industry across Europe and to becoming himself as an independent researcher


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
EH8 9YL Edinburgh
United Kingdom

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Scotland Eastern Scotland Edinburgh
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 212 933,76